‘Visualisation is day dreaming with a purpose’
Over the years, the needs of the spiritual mind and the soul have become vitally important for our over all wellbeing. They need as much nourishment as our bodies do and for someone who can often feel overwhelmed with both serious and not so serious anxieties, this was an area that I wanted to explore.
Finding time to sit purposely to quieten the mind and focus on the breathe to reduce stress and heal is not something I find easy. The purpose of meditation as a whole has always sat a little awkwardly with me as the idea of clearing my mind in peace and quiet usually results in the exact opposite and thoughts come hurtling from all directions! However, I have now realised that visualisation is a more practical form of meditation for me and though mindfulness and visualisation are both hugely beneficial, visualisation has appealed more to me as a form of relaxation.
Having used visualisation to a small extent during chemotherapy, I realised how powerful it was for me and primarily how I could use it as an escape. I am always going on about how different we all are and no one size fits all, but, if you are similar to me and need visuals to help you find that still and peaceful place when all about you is going to pot, you are not alone!
Surprisingly, meditation coupled with visualization can actually help heal the physical body. It turns out that our minds require a certain type of stimulation in order to stay focused and mentally sharp. Our modern hectic lifestyle makes meditation more important than it ever was.
Give me a soothing voice talking me through a relaxation exercise, instructing me to actually breathe first and foremost, as well as picture myself in a scene where I feel my happiest and most calm, and surprise surprise but my ability to relax is a lot more effective! Evidence suggests that the body responds to the command the mind gives it; visualising that you are in a calm situation causes the body to believe you are in exactly that so what other benefits does this technique have for healing?
Visualisation is a type of meditation that involves a specific conscious effort from us as an individual. While doing a visualisation we direct our minds to a place we want it to go. This can be where the guided meditation wants you to go specifically or a place you choose; the beach, a quiet spot by a river, a serene space outside in the countryside. It is a chance to work our imaginations again. The floor is yours! Visualisation can sometimes be called Mental Imagery and if practiced at a deeper level may get to a point where sensations can be felt in the body, and we can experience action and its consequences in detail, promoting an increase in positive mental attitude.
The benefits of visualisation don’t just include finding more peace in our daily lives but if practiced regularly we can empower ourselves to over come limiting self beliefs, improve our physical health by reducing our blood pressure, improve circulation and it can also increase fertility as well as reduce inflammation and give us more emotional balance too.
‘the thought process that invokes the senses: vision, audition, smell, taste, the sense of movement, position, and touch. It is the communication mechanism between perception, emotion, and bodily change. A major cause of both health and sickness, the image is the world’s greatest healing resource. Imagery, or the stuff of the imagination, affects the body intimately on both seemingly mundane and profound levels”
-Imagery and Healing: Shamanism and Modern Medicine, p. 3 – Jeanne Achterberg, 1985
Visualisation can also be an effective way of reaching goals. There is a growing attitude teaching that if you can imagine it, it will happen. Its the ‘See it to believe it’ mentality and it is really catching on. The law of attraction and visualisation are making a fine couple in the world of self help! Visualising the process of achieving something you really want can help focus attention on the steps and the emotions that are needed to reach the goal. Anyone who may have read The Secret will know how vital visualisation is to unlocking your potential and it is being hailed as a hugely positive practice for our wellbeing now a days.
If you are interested in dipping your toe into the world of guided meditations/visualisation but are aware how over whelming it might all be, have a look at the following.
- Calm is a very handy App that I have been using a lot recently. There is a huge selection of themed guided meditations from commuting to focus and gratitude and the timings range in scale from 3 minutes to ten minutes, but what makes this special is that in the background to each recording you can choose to listen (and look at) different scenes ranging from gently flowing streams to summer meadows and tropical beaches; https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/calm-meditate-relax-guided/id571800810?mt=8
- Louise Hay is very prominent on You Tube and has morning and evening visualisations which can be really helpful for getting you started in a calm and focused way and winding down after a long day; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwFh5TUwilg
- Gabrielle Bernstein is a huge influence online and I have to confess I have a lot of her albums. Healing and releasing fears are big themes with Gabby, nicknames The Spirit Junkie and you can find her at http://gabbyb.tv as well as You Tube and itunes. Her album May Cause Miracles is really useful.
- Kris Carr has just released an album on her website too which includes five to ten minute guided meditations for the busy people! Personally, I love the Pep talk track and the affirmations for healing; http://kriscarr.com/products/self-care-for-busy-people-digital-meditation-album/
- Christine Kerr does some amazing albums on itunes for kids. My daughter loves them and they calm and relax her brilliantly; https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=christine+kerr
- The Honest Guys do a lovely blissful deep relaxation and a gentle sleep talk down if you have trouble nodding off, both of which you can find on You Tube; https://www.youtube.com/user/TheHonestGuys
- Dr Arlene Alexander has a selection of CD’s on itunes too which are lovely to relax to; http://www.sequoiarecords.com/arlene-alexander.html
Whatever and whenever you decide to try and test, guided meditations and visualisation are a very personal thing. If you prefer to be guided and use imagery to focus your mind in a positive way, it’s perfect.
In the last blog I posted a link to a hypnotherapy meditation from Nicky Anstey specifically for moving on after treatment. This has been hugely helpful for me when I am having wobbly days and anxious about reoccurrence but on a daily basis, having a library of morning and evening guided meditations as well as those I can choose on days when I may have trouble sleeping or low self esteem, is so useful and reassuring. It is simply another healing tool in that familiar tool box I have mentioned carrying around (once or twice before) and being able to utilise the technology of my iphone to store them on and take them everywhere I go, is quite simply genius. If we all took just take five minutes a day to visualise ourselves calm, happy and in our ideal situation, surely that would count for more of the well in being!
To accomplish great things we must first dream, then visualize, then plan… believe… act!
– Alfred A. Montapert